Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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April 26, 2013

Living proof that life's a gift

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The registry is a means by which people give legal consent to donation of their organs in the event of their death. When decedents are not registered, physicians/surgeons have to get permission from a closest survivor such as a spouse or parent.

Some of the facts, and undoing of myths, about organ donation came by way of Lea’s surgeon, Dr. Randeep Kashyap. A prior speech by Kashyap, recorded and and replayed for the LHS students, is a heartfelt appeal to people of all ages to drop squeamishness and superstition and think rationally about organ donation.

Some of the facts, Kashyap said: Nationwide in 2012, 118,000 people were on organ transplant lists; 28,000 transplants were performed; and on average,19 people died every day while waiting for a transplant.

The American way of lining up potential organ donors, by an “opt in” registration system, isn’t too helpful to the cause of saving lives, according to Kashyap. It requires signers to contemplate their own death and many would rather not. Donor registry rates are much higher in European nations that employ an “opt out” registration system, meaning every decedent is a potential organ donor unless they sign a form stating they do not want to be, he said. 

False beliefs about organ donation may hold people back from consenting for themselves or a loved one. Says Kashyap: Contrary to old myth, open-casket funerals are “entirely possible” for organ donors. All of the major religions — Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism — support organ donation as “a spiritual act that honors the sanctity of life,” he added.

People of all ages, and the chronically ill, are potential organ donors, Kashyap said.

Lea thinks that if people associated organ donation with “life” rather than “death,” the question of whether to register as an organ donor wouldn’t be one to avoid. She’s presenting herself as living proof that organ donation truly is “the gift of life.”

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